Talking to children about clown fears

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Clown threats aimed at districts and schools across Connecticut have now forced a response from the State Department of Education.

A spokesman said in a statement to News 8:

“We are committed to helping schools maintain positive school climates that support learning and make students feel safe and supported. We encourage parents and communities to have conversations with kids about the serious nature of making threats, including threats posted on social media.”

Parents find themselves also having to confront their child’s possible fear of clowns.

“Fear of clowns is a real fear,” said Eitan Kilchevsky, M.D., a pediatrician who also works at the Quinnipiac School of Medicine. “Parents have to realize it and address it accordingly. To be serious about it and show child the they’re not ignoring it.”

Kilchevsky said many children are naturally afraid of clowns because of their sometimes grotesque makeup and wild behavior that breaks social norms. Those fears can take on a new element now that anonymous online threats aimed at schools are proliferating, with images of creepy clowns.

“Encourage them to express their fears, to share their emotions with the parents,” Kilchevsky said.

Gentle exposure to clowns can help ease a child’s fear. Kilchevsky said with patience, children eventually outgrow the vast majority of fears at a young age.

“Give the children time. They will recover with the appropriate approach and understanding of the parents,” Kilchevsky said. “And doing it slowly and taking their time children do outgrow.”

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